Alexandra Bullen Coutts (Executive Director, MVCET) believes in lifelong learning and that “career paths” are not always linear. A published author of five novels for young adults, she has worked as a program director, community organizer, social media manager, high school teacher, grant writer, magazine editor, freelance journalist, waitress, barista and yoga instructor.
Through writing and telling stories for and about young adults, she discovered a passion for working directly with young people to help them make connections to futures in education and meaningful employment. At Martha’s Vineyard Community Services she created a social network and programming for young adults aged 18-30, called Oyster MV. Through a weekly newsletter, social media and in-person programming she built a space for young adults to engage with the island community and consider new directions and possibilities.
She joined MVCET as Executive Director in May is 2023 and is eager to support learners of all ages in the process of building secure, fulfilling, and evolving Island lives.
Alex holds a BA and a MFA from New York University. A mother of three young children, Alex loves to travel with her family, cook, read, write and walk the Island’s glorious beaches and trails. She hopes to return to yoga one day.
Jeni Zern brings with her a unique combination of skills developed from her years of experience as as a graphic designer and marketer, as an Operations Coordinator for The Association of Travel Marketing Executives (ATME), and more recently, as a restaurant manager for Little House Café in Vineyard Haven. As a freelance creative director and as VP Creative at her family’s marketing company, Zern Associates, she helmed marketing campaigns for American Express, Viacom, and tourism bureaus all over the world. At ATME, she mastered the day-to-day of nonprofit organization management, from grassroots membership drives to large-scale event planning. At Little House, she kept the front-of-house running smoothly and excelled in delivering top-notch customer service. Jeni studied at CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies (Home College: John Jay College of Criminal Justice) for a self-tailored degree in the history of social oppression. A New York native and erstwhile Los Angeleno, Jeni has lived year-round on Martha’s Vineyard since 2011.
After finishing high school on the Vineyard, Courtney migrated to Brooklyn, NY, where she would spend the next 15 years doing research and working on her education. During that time, she earned her BA in Psychology & the Special Honors Curriculum from Hunter College, with a minor in Biology. After graduating, she was awarded a RISE Fellowship to begin her graduate studies at The City University of New York, earning a Master of Philosophy in Psychology prior to leaving academia to enter the nonprofit sector. Courtney then spent five years as a Supervising Counselor for a community mental health center in Upstate New York before returning to the Vineyard and joining MVCET.
In addition to a professional staff, MVCET has an engaged Board of Directors who oversees the governance and fiscal policy of the organization. The Board works closely with outside advisors, including SCORE, MV Donors Collaborative and retired business and education leaders and other nonprofit community members.
The MVCET Board of Directors continues to attract members from diverse backgrounds, including academia, accounting, healthcare and business. It now includes 8 members and has governance, finance and development and outreach committees that ensure proper governance, fiscal transparency and accountability.
Nancy Hoffman is a vice president and senior advisor at Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national nonprofit based in Boston focused on improving educational and workforce outcomes for low income young people and adults. She is currently co-lead with Prof. Robert Schwartz of the Pathways to Prosperity State Network, a collaboration among eight states, Jobs for the Future, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The Network seeks to ensure that many more youth complete high school, attain a post-secondary credential with currency in the labor market, and get launched on a career while leaving open the prospect of further education. For a decade at JFF, Hoffman led JFF’s Early College High School Initiative, a network of over 270 schools in 28 states blending high school and two years of college. She continues to work with states on aligning and integrating high school and college and developing new pathways to degree completion and careers. Hoffman’s career spans many years of work in high schools and higher education. Prior to joining JFF, she was a senior lecturer in education at Brown University and served as director of the President’s Office and secretary of the Brown Corporation. Hoffman served as vice provost for undergraduate studies at Temple University and director of the University Honors Program, with faculty appointments in English and women’s studies. She was the academic services dean at Harvard Graduate School of Education from 1988-1990. She also served as a program officer at the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education and a founder and faculty member of the College of Public and Community Service at UMass Boston. She has held teaching positions in English and comparative literature at the University of California Santa Barbara, Portland State University, MIT, and UMass Boston. She co-convened the Academic Environment Unit of HERS Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration. Hoffman has served as a consultant for the education policy unit of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Her most recent book, drawing on the OECD’s Learning for Jobs initiative is Schooling in the Workplace: How Six of the World’s Best Vocational Education Systems Prepare Young People for Jobs and Life (Harvard Education Press, 2011). She speaks and writes about high-quality vocational education in the United States and abroad. Hoffman holds a B.A. and Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of California Berkeley. Other recent publications include Women’s True Profession: Voices from the History of Teaching (2003), and, edited with Richard Kazis and Joel Vargas, Double the Numbers: Increasing Postsecondary Credentials for Underrepresented Youth (2004), and Minding the Gap: Why Integrating High School with College Makes Sense and How to Do It (2007), edited by Hoffman and Vargas with Andrea Venezia and Marc Miller. Hoffman serves on the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education.
Norman Werthwein graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in 1967 with a B.A. in Accounting. After serving two years in the US Army he began his career with a Public Accounting Firm obtaining his CPA and Partnership with the large International Firm. He then joined Tiffany & CO. as Chief Financial Officer and then became Chief Accounting Officer for Avon Products Inc, Subsequently he has been Chief Financial Officer for both privately held and Public Companies in a variety of Industries. He has also served on the Boards of both national and local not-for profits. He is married with two adult children and resides in Chilmark.
My name is Richie Smith. I have the great pleasure of serving our Island as the superintendent of the Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools. I received my BA from Virginia Tech, my M.Ed. from the University of Virginia, and my doctorate from the College of William and Mary. After a long career in teaching I have been blessed to be a school administrator for the Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools for over 20 years. I feel fortunate to support our Island community as a member of this board.
Kim Garrison is a PhD student in Human Development at the University of Rochester, and acting Behavioral Health Coordinator/Research Specialist for Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools. Kim Garrison has worked in the education and human development fields in both Massachusetts and New York State for over twenty-five years. She has experience in the public Pk-12, private higher education, and non-profit sectors. She has worked as a teacher, supervisor of teacher candidates, consultant to school districts on multi-tiered systems of supports, program evaluator, and researcher.
Kim’s research focuses on structures for promotive educational systems that drive positive youth development (e.g., school climate, social emotional learning, educator collaboration, and teacher burnout). She is also a 2020 Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellow. Under this award, Kim is leading a system-wide initiative at MVPS to develop a multi-tiered system of care model framed by the National School Mental Health Curriculum (National Center for School Mental Health and MHTTC Network Coordinating Office, 2019). Using the School Health Assessment and Evaluation (SHAPE) System and improvement science methods (Carnegie Foundation) she is leading a team of school counselors and school psychologists to map and evaluate school needs according to the quality standards for school mental health and trauma responsiveness. In addition, as acting project fellow and research specialist, Kim is leading a feasibility study for a school-based health center at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School using The Community Guide framework for community preventive services (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Kim grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and went through the MV school system K-12. She has taught at both Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and West Tisbury School, and she is excited to watch her daughter Kennedy learn and grow here on MV.
Tilma Johnson is Vice President and Regional Manager for Rockland Trust, Martha’s Vineyard. She is the former Vice President for the Edgartown National Bank. Tilma is actively involved with our island’s community – she is a SCORE mentor and serves as Board Member for the Edgartown Board of Trade. In 2015, Tilma was recognized by the MV Chamber of Commerce as one of the “40 under 40” most influential people on Martha’s Vineyard.
Cynthia is an experienced business law and certified human resources professional as well as a management professor. She is CEO & Founder of Baldwin Rise, a firm dedicated to empowering clients through legal and human resources consulting; ethics, compliance and risk mitigation; facilitation and mediation services; and academic mentoring and coaching. She leads human resources and compliance workshops and webinars to national audiences. Cynthia currently serves as legal counsel and chief human resources officer for an international transformation management consultancy. She is also an adjunct faculty member in higher education teaching business management, negotiation, business law, and continuing education-workforce development courses.
Cynthia holds a Doctor of Law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law; a Master’s degree in business ethics and compliance from Cambridge College; and a Bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Connecticut. A life-long learner, Cynthia completed the scholar-practitioner program sponsored by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. She also completed an internal coach intensive program at Columbia University’s Teachers College; earned a certificate in human resources management from Duke University; and earned a certificate in negotiation mastery from Harvard Business School Online.
Cynthia is a member of The Links, Incorporated and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She has been a community leader for many years, serving on various government and non-profit boards in Fairfield County Connecticut. Also, currently she is a regional trustee for the National Urban League.
Cynthia was born in Norwalk, Connecticut and has homes in Ridgefield, CT and Vineyard Haven, MA.
Finance Committee Chair: Norman Werthwein
Governance Committee Chair: Nancy Hoffman
Fundraising Committee Chair: Kim Garrison